On Rova's Radar Mar 2021

Rova / Rova:Arts
115 Central Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94117

:: Mar 2021 ::

In This Dispatch:

2021, Looking Ahead

Rova on the Air

Forthcoming Rova CD: The Circumference of Reason

Rova Member Projects


Our Pandemic Reality

Even though Rova had a low public profile over the past year (our last live show was a wonderful collaboration with pianist Myra Melford in February 2020), we have been meeting and working behind the scenes to plan events for the coming year. While somewhat technically hampered, we are working to connect virtually to plan and to rehearse and eventually perform and collaborate ‘live’.

Creation of a community server to aid in virtual music presentations 

The pandemic has made in-person performing and rehearsing impossible, so we are actively developing online solutions for ourselves that will also be available to the broader community. We have established a dedicated server as a platform for the rapidly developing software required to address problems inherent to online musical interactions. We are also in discussions with the Center for New Music and Rent Romus’s Outsound Presents to come up with other solutions that are viable, practical, and safe.


Our programming plans include live streaming of select Rova rehearsals, quartet concerts and performances of Rova’s collaborative projects. And, despite the constraints of our pandemic reality, Rova members are pursuing their individual recording and performance projects.

2021, Looking Ahead

Bay Area performances took a hit a year ago. Like every enterprise in the Bay Area, San Francisco music performances have been drastically reduced since COVID-19 crushed our communities. But now Rova is poised to present new works as well as some of our older projects that will be new to many our listeners. Read on for detailed programming plans.

Touring plans are on hold as we await the return of safe travel and secure performance venues, but we’re revisiting prior plans for taking Rova music on the road. We’ll keep you all posted.

A new Rova CD, The Circumference of Reason, will be released by ESP-Disk’ later this year.

Rova on the Air

Rova:Arts is initiating an ongoing monthly broadcast of both video and audio-only shows from the Rova archives. The series will continue at least until venues reopen and live performances are again a reality. Each broadcast will premiere on a Thursday at 7 PM Pacific Time and will be available throughout that weekend. The initial Thursday broadcasts at 7 PM will be followed by live Q+A sessions with Rova members and you.

Watch for a separate email with links and details about the upcoming broadcasts.

Thursday April 22, 7 PM PDT 

Rova On the Air 1: Channeling Coltrane - Electric Ascension (BluRay / DVD)

Live at the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (68:35)

If we must live with On the Air broadcasts, what better performance to start with than Electric Ascension?  

This is Rova’s recreation of John Coltrane’s epic late work, Ascension. We have performed this piece with over 50 mavericks of improvisation since 2003, nearly annually, at festivals and venues in North America and Europe. This video performance was shot and recorded at the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival. Produced and directed by filmmaker John Rogers of Ideas in Motion. The initial airing on Thursday April 22 at 7PM PDT will be followed by a live Q+A with Rova. After that, the 2012 festival performance will be available for viewing through Sunday April 25.

With special guests: Nels Cline - electric guitar; Fred Frith - e-bass; Carla Kihlstedt
and Jenny Scheinman – violins; Chris Brown and Ikue Mori - electronics, Rob Mazurek –
cornet; Hamid Drake – drums; and Marc Urselli - sound engineer
*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More on Channeling Coltrane *|END:IF|*
Nate Chinen on THE NEW YORK TIMES January 2016
Transience and permanence each play a role in any landmark recording of free jazz. This is
especially true of “Ascension,” the large-canvas album made by the saxophonist John
Coltrane in 1965. An experiment in form and scale, it was never performed in concert, even
though that would seem to be its ideal manifestation.
The members of Rova Saxophone Quartet, an intrepid ensemble formed in the San Francisco
Bay Area more than 35 years ago, took this into consideration when they conceived Electric
Ascension, a repertory tribute group stocked with texture-mad improvisers like the guitarist
Nels Cline. The expanded assemblage has toured in Europe and North America, and a vital

album — “Electric Ascension,” credited to Rova::Orkestrova — was released on Atavistic in
“Rova Channeling Coltrane” similarly chronicles a live performance, highlighting the
ephemeral qualities of the music. But because this new release contains not only an album
but also a concert film and a behind-the-scenes documentary, it offers a more multilayered
experience. (A surround-sound version of the album, on an enclosed Blu-ray disc, includes the
option to tinker with the mix, focusing on a particular musician’s output within the collective
The music, from a 2012 concert in Guelph, Ontario, is at once ecstatic, enigmatic and
volatile, often suggesting a flow of complex systems. But there are signposts, starting with
Coltrane’s thematic overture, and there’s a method, overseen by two of Rova’s founding
members, the saxophonists Jon Raskin and Larry Ochs.
The roster on “Rova Channeling Coltrane” includes Mr. Cline, Ikue Mori on electronics, Rob
Mazurek on cornet and Hamid Drake on drums. Their interplay is striking: Each transaction
feels contingent on its immediate context — what happened a moment ago, and what’s in the
moment ahead.
Over a roughly 70-minute span, the music keeps realigning among smaller subgroups of
players. One poetic stretch, emerging out of a cacophony, involves just Jenny Scheinman’s
mournful violin and Mr. Cline’s quietly ringing chords; another has Ms. Scheinman and Carla
Kihlstedt embroidering a dialogue on violin, against a percussive rustle. These smallish
moments underscore the power of the full ensemble whenever it heaves into gear.

Thursday, May 20, 7PM PDT

Rova on the Air 2: Orkestrova Live at the 2005 Tampere Jazz Happening

Recorded live at the Tampere Jazz Happening, Nov. 6, 2005 and produced by Timo Lehtinen for the Jazz Is Happening TV series and the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
The initial airing on Thursday, May 20 at 7PM PDT will be followed by a live Q+A with Rova. After that, the Finnish TV broadcast will be available for viewing through Sunday May 23.

Rova plus:
Natsuki Tamura - trumpet
Verneri Pohjola – trumpet
Ilmari Pohjola - trombone
Markku Veijonsuo - trombone
Satoko Fujii - piano
Antti Lötjönen - bass
Akira Horikoshi - drums


This concert was one of 3 festival appearances that Rova played in Europe with the trio of Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, and Akira Horikoshi in fall 2005. The big band music performed in Europe was originally written by Fujii and Steve Adams for a Rova:Arts produced concert in San Francisco in 2002, and later released on the CD, An Alligator in Your Wallet. On the tour we filled out the band with local musicians from Switzerland, France, and then Finland, and rehearsed the music together on the day of the concert. The results were fantastic, with all players getting right into the heart of the music.


This documentary, produced by the Finnish Broadcasting Company in 2006, includes 3 pieces in their entirety. Satoko’s “A Lion in Your Bag” is first and features Larry Ochs. Steve’s “Survival (in Five Acts)” follows, with solos by Verneri Pohjola, Ochs, Raskin and Adams. Last is Satoko’s “An Alligator in Your Wallet”, with a solo by Ackley followed by a trumpet duo by Verneri and Natsuki, and a trombone duo by Olmari and Markku. The video concludes with excerpts from Satoko’s “A Zebra on Your Roof” and Steve’s piece “Chuck”.

Date in June TBD

Rova on the Air 3: Carla Kihlstedt’s Pandæmonium
Rova commissioned Carla Kihlstedt for a work that she called Pandæmonium, which premiered at the Other Minds Festival 15 in 2010. Rova was joined by narrator-actors Matthias Bossi and Joan Mankin. Kihlstedt's inspiration and the texts used in the work came from the book, Pandæmonium: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers, 1660-1886 by Humphrey Jennings. All excerpts from the book were sourced from letters, articles, diaries, literature, and scientific studies about the industrial age, as experienced from 1660-1886.

New Rova CD: The Circumference of Reason

A new Rova CD, The Circumference of Reason, will be released by ESP-Disk’ later this year. The recording features all new works by Rova members, including our most recent collective effort, “NC-17”. It will be our first CD since In Transverse Time, released in 2018 to coincide with our 40th anniversary.


Rova Member Projects
Jon Raskin

For Jon Raskin 2020 proved to be a busy year musically. He finished studio recordings of Steve Lacy’s Practitioner Books ‘W’ and ‘P’; a quartet recording, Synergy Signals, with Chris Brown, Jason Hoopes and Vladimir Tarasov; and Songs From Urban Forest with the Flatland Quartet, comprised of Sacramento-based musicians Darren Johnston, Jon Bafus, Ross Hammond.
*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* Read More on Jon Raskin *|END:IF|*

Jon began swapping files with British guitarist Mike Cooper that resulted in two recording projects. The first session was in reaction to tracks Cooper sent, and the second is reversed, Mike reacting to Jon’s tracks.

You can listen to and purchase all recordings at https://jonraskin.bandcamp.com/ 

At the same time, Jon researched solutions to enable working with musicians online. He started with Zoom—limited to only 3 musicians able to play simultaneously--and did trials with other online services, Jamulus, Soundjack.eu, and Jazzkazam.

Zoom allows musicians around the world to collaborate, so he was able to make music with others around the state, the U.S., Europe, and Japan. In June Jon joined Sarah Weavers NowNet Arts Lab Ensemble. It was formed to test improvements to Jacktrip, a solution for playing remotely on the internet that has been around for 15 years. Sarah composed music for the project that included improvisation, written material, sound painting (a cued musical language developed by Walter Thompson) and structured improvisations. It was a mix of Zoom participants and Jacktrip users. We tested new versions, and Sarah helped players install Jacktrip and troubleshoot equipment.  

A smaller group, Dilate Ensemble, was formed from the Lab Ensemble and is a mix of music and video with members in Vienna, New York, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Sacramento. DE creates new works for live-streaming and high res versions, which you can listen to and purchase at https://dilate.bandcamp.com/ 

At the same time Jon learned a program called Quacktrip, developed by Miller Puckette who invented Max MSP and PD. Quacktrip has high quality sound and has the ability to mix and pan each player. Puckette developed two additional programs, netty mcnetface (a server-based version), and music 101 (a mono signal for larger groups like choirs). This platform looks really promising for Rova, so Jon built out a cloud server to run these programs for the quartet and others to use.

Last fall we discovered another new program, Sonobus, which has even more features, has better sound, and will be the platform Rova will use to rehearse this spring.

Steve Adams

Steve has three new Bandcamp releases, After Before, a new collection of drone-adjacent solo electronic pieces, and two collections of remote electronic duos with John Hanes, Quixotic Peeress and Quixotic Peeress, Series 2

After Before is a series of solo electronic pieces that marinated in the distorted time sense of our pandemic reality. Sometimes nothing changes, sometimes it does but you don't notice, sometimes suddenly everything has shifted sideways, or turned inside out, or stopped completely. After Before is available for free at https://steveadams.bandcamp.com/.

The Quixotic Peeress pieces were made remotely during the Covid-19 lockdown. One of us would start a track and send it to the other, who would add their part. We tried to keep it close to the improvisational spirit of our usual sessions. Quixotic Peeress is an anagram of Exquisite Corpse, the surrealist game of continuing another person’s drawing or text without seeing it. Both releases are available for free at hanesadams.bandcamp.com. 

Hanes/Adams Duo most recent pre-lockdown live performance is available on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/hanes-adams/live-luggagestore-13020
Steve also did a video performance of Edmund Campion’s Corail for tenor saxophone and computer electronics that is available on CNMAT’s youtube channel at https://youtu.be/Z2K7czQtrpM.

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Stay Tuned

You can stay in touch with all Rova:Arts activities through our website, subscribing to Rova's Radar, and our FaceBook and MySpace pages. See links at the bottom of the page. Also, check out Rova on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel and be notified when there are new Rova videos for you to watch. Go to our Youtube page and click the subscribe button.

About Rova:Arts

Rova:Arts, formed in 1986 to support the activities of Rova, has been instrumental in producing local projects and advancing an ongoing cultural exchange between local Bay Area artists and the international scene through its Rovaté concert series. These events, made possible by funding to Rova:Arts, have engaged Bay Area musicians and composers—as well as musicians from around the world. Rova:Arts projects are often reproduced in other parts of the world, thereby bringing the work to a broader audience. Also, many Rova:Arts events have been recorded, resulting in releases which have been enthusiastically celebrated.

Click here to find out more and to Join Rova:Arts. If you are interested in getting involved in a more hands-on-way, feel free to contact us. Thanks for being part of the art.

Bandcamp! Bandcamp!

We’re now offering both new and impossible to find Rova recordings and other points of interest on our Bandcamp page. Be sure to check out recordings there, including, Saxophone Special, No Favorites, as well as, for example, the long out-of-print 1990 recording Long on Logic that we are making available as a CD download for the first time.

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